Pushing the bounds of rationality: Argumentation and extended cognition

In Fabio Paglieri, Laura Bonelli & Silvia Felletti (eds.), The psychology of argument: Cognitive approaches to argumentation and persuasion. London: College Publications. pp. 67-83 (2016)
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One of the central tasks of a theory of argumentation is to supply a theory of appraisal: a set of standards and norms according to which argumentation, and the reasoning involved in it, is properly evaluated. In their most general form, these can be understood as rational norms, where the core idea of rationality is that we rightly respond to reasons by according the credence we attach to our doxastic and conversational commitments with the probative strength of the reasons we have for them. Certain kinds of rational failings are so because they are manifestly illogical – for example, maintaining overtly contradictory commitments, violating deductive closure by refusing to accept the logical consequences of one’s present commitments, or failing to track basing relations by not updating one’s commitments in view of new, defeating information. Yet, according to the internal and empirical critiques, logic and probability theory fail to supply a fit set of norms for human reasoning and argument. Particularly, theories of bounded rationality have put pressure on argumentation theory to lower the normative standards of rationality for reasoners and arguers on the grounds that we are bounded, finite, and fallible agents incapable of meeting idealized standards. This paper explores the idea that argumentation, as a set of practices, together with the procedures and technologies of argumentation theory, is able to extend cognition such that we are better able to meet these idealized logical standards, thereby extending our responsibilities to adhere to idealized rational norms.
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